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Celebrating Wesak Day 2022

Wong Shu Lee  


  May 12, 2022

Wesak, also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, and Buddha Day, is a holiday observed by Buddhists and some Hindus. 


It commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as Buddha. All these important events are said to have happened on the same day throughout his life. 


The commemoration of these events on Wesak Day usually begins at dawn at Buddhist temples throughout the country. Devotees gather to meditate on the Eight Precepts. Monks in saffron-colored robes chant the sutras in unison. A candle procession is the highlight of the celebration, and at the same time, offerings of prayers, joss sticks, and incense, giving food to the needy, and donations are also made. 


Much to the delight of all devout Buddhists (and those non-celebrating) in Malaysia, Wesak Day is considered one of the national public holidays. There is a wide variety in determining the exact date of the Wesak Day celebration. Various lunar calendars are used in different traditions to determine the date. 


Those who celebrate Wesak Day in Korea, Japan, and China usually mark the celebration on 8th of April each year. Regardless of the different dates for the celebration of the holy day, Wesak Day is observed by all sects of Buddhists, and observances by the devotees on that day include ‘bathing’ the Buddha, giving to charity, abstaining from meat through the consumption of vegetarian food, meditation and observing the eight percepts.


During the pre-pandemic time, every year in Malaysia, thousands of devotees from all walks of life gather in the spirit of Buddha. At the Malaysian Buddhist Association, ardent devotees queued patiently to take turns to bathe the Buddha statue, which is a special ritual that represents the purification and cleansing of one’s soul. Aside from that, devotees who go into the shrine hall are able to light the lotus-shaped candles and seek Buddha’s blessings. At the end of the prayers, well-wishers and devotees come together to dine on simple offerings of vegetarian food and drinks.


Wesak Day 2022 takes place on the 16th of May. After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Wesak Day will see devotees in Penang back at temples to seek blessings this year.


Coincidentally, this year is also the 60th year since Wesak Day became a national public holiday in Malaysia. This year’s Wesak theme is “Promote harmony through mutual respect and helping each other”.


Devotees would be allowed to take part in the ritual of bathing the Buddha statue at the MBA building on Burmah Road. Devotees can take part in the bathing of the Buddha statue from 7.30pm to 10pm on Saturday and from 6am to 10pm on Sunday. There will also be a Wesak Day charity sale from 9am to 2pm on Sunday at the MBA building. 


However, for the third consecutive year, there will be no procession.


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